JBL 4349 or Klipsch Cornwall IV


I need some input on these speakers, I will be able to try 4349 in my home in some time but Cornwall IV is difficult to audition, no dealers nearby. Any input is highly appreciated.

I listen to rock, metal, classical music, jazz, americana and occasionally some country. I have Mark Levinson pre and power (power is not an issue with the JBLs although I might have to change amp for the Cornwalls). My room is roughly 16x18 with a 10 feet ceiling.

I have listened to JBL L100 and while I enjoyed them with classical, jazz and metal, I did not find them to be very good for rock. The treble was slightly harsh and since the loudspeaker did not sound very open or engaging at lower volumes, the treble became very noticeable when the volume was dialled up. But like I said, they brought life to classical and jazz, that’s why I’m now looking at 4349 or maybe Cornwall IVs which have gotten some very nice reviews.


johnek
Doesn't the L100 have a tweeter control? I ask because I am interested in comparing them to my modified Heresy II's.
@8044drussellI It does have controls for both treble and midrange. Lowering the treble makes it more listenable but also makes it dull. I don’t think it’s the level of the treble that’s the problem, it’s the quality. Spoke to the salesman about it and he agreed, he did not like the midrange or the treble. But as he said, people buying them were quite happy. It depends on what you are are looking for, what music you listen to and how sensitive you are. 
I have owned the CW IV for about six months now and I'm extremely happy with it. It takes a bit of work to get the placement right, but when you do, you will be rewarded. Great tone and texture and dynamics are just what you expect from horns.

Oz



@ozzy62 What’s your take on the Cornwall, do you feel they are forgiving of less than stellar recordings? Tone recently published a review where they claim the Cornwall is slightly forgiving, if that’s true I’m definitely going for it. 
The Cornwall is such an excellent speaker at what it does. For a rocker on a budget it is first class. You do not have to worry about your amp, just about anything will drive the Cornwalls to crazy levels. Down the line if you cross to subwoofers between 80 and 100 Hz you will really be cooking. I have never listened to the JBLs so I can't comment.
As far as forgiving goes I'm not sure I can give you a meaningful answer. Horns are very detailed if you feed them trash like a bad pressing played with a less than stellar cartridge you are not going to like the sound. If it is just a poor recording then you will be fine. The Cornwalls will not mask anything. It is important that your program sources are up to the job but that is true of any fine loudspeaker. 
can't talk about the whole line but I read a review on the L100s cabinet construction was not great
I'm not sure I'd call them forgiving, but they don't shine a light on poor recordings.  I can listen to most anything on them.

@mijostyn, are you talking about earlier Cornwalls or the latest?

Oz

Whichever one you listen to make sure you warm up and play for at least three hours to determine the sound a lot of high or higher efficiency systems take time to warm up to sound their best do not make quick judgements and buy the one you like but the cornwall will be very amplifier dependent.
3 hours every time you listen to these speakers?
John Marks’ JBL L100 comments

I've not heard the JBL's but they certainly look great!
I own the Cornwall IV's and I'm very happy with them.  They are a little light below 50Hz but they are oh, so clean and dynamic!  I listen to a wide range of music, too: rock, country, jazz, classical, chill and more.  I have never felt horns were the best thing for large-scale classical music, but they really are the cat's meow for pretty much everything else, IMHO. 

As for the "revealing" thing...Cornwalls have exceptional clarity, but I would not say they are ruthlessly revealing or that they are particularly forgiving, either.  Bad recordings will sound like bad recordings.  Great recordings will sound like great ones.  They do have a degree of warmth that I think sometimes helps the medicine go down.
Check out Bob Crites’s “cornscala” speaker (now known simply as Crites speaker). Like the cornwalls they are a 3 way horn loaded speaker. I own a pair and imho are just fantastic. I run them with a vta st-120, and at 60w per channel they’ll blow you out of the room, very efficient. Only cons I can come up with is they don’t come with attractive veneers. Huge soundstage and very dynamic.
I owned the cornscala C version a few years ago. While it is a good speaker, it came with it's own set of problems. First, the crites xovers had to go and were replaced by an ALK version with adjustable taps for the mids. I also wrapped the midrange horn with dynamat. Even after all this the undoing of this speaker for me was the cabinet resonance in the mid bass. Not terrible, but undeniable in some material.

The bottom line is that although much more expensive, the CW IV is the better speaker.
I always thought that the JBL 100 was great for rock but not so great for classical, the reverse of what you write. As for the Cornwalls, according to the reviews I've read and heard, in addition to the views of audio sales people I spoke with, they are less than ideal for classical, better suited for rock and le jazz.
Thanks for all the input so far! 
I do understand that the Cornwall IVs are more critical when it comes to amplifier matching, given that my current amps are a Mark Levinson 432 and a “spare” Bryson 4B-SST, my setup is likely a much better fit for the JBLs. It does however seem that there are good amps suitable for Cornwall IVs that are relatively inexpensive. The question is though if a Mark Levinson amp, albeit seriously overpowered for high efficiency speakers, is a poor match with Cornwall IVs? 

Cornwall IV seems like a good match for me, the fact that there’s not a lot of really deep bass is no concern, it might even make it easier to integrate the speakers in my room. On the other hand, what I enjoyed about L100 classic was the physical impact they had, not sure if the Cornwall IVs will give that (although L100 classic don’t have deep bass either). I’m not really looking for a forgiving speaker, too many forgiving speakers are just plain dull even with the best material. On the other hand, there are revealing speakers that sound really good with a few recordings in a certain genre. It seems though that Cornwall IVs manage the balance nicely judging from your input above. 
As there’s no way I can demo Cornwall IVs at the moment I’ve come to the conclusion that I will accept the offer to try the 4349 in my home, if I like them, they stay. If I don’t like them (maybe too much mid bass or whatever), based on reviews and valuable input above, I feel confident enough to buy Cornwall IVs unheard. In this case I can start with the Mark Levinson amp and upgrade later. 
Well, for low volume listening I think you can't get much better than the Cornwall.  It sounds full and rich at low volumes.  The Cornwall sounds really great with low powered tube amps but your current amp will also work fine as well.
I own L100's and love them. They replaced a pair of Cornscalas which for my listening area were just too damn big. Can't really say anything about the Cornwall IV or the JBL 4349 but I have owned Heresy II before and the L100's hammer out Classic Rock, Blues and Metal beautifully.
@quad78 I enjoyed them with classical music mainly because of the scale and the lack of midrange warmth. Not sure if they were tonally correct but they were great fun. In my room they imaged surprisingly well and they had an open character that worked well with string sections (with some speakers you can’t tell if there is one violin or if there are 20) and choruses (I had these right before Christmas and enjoyed an old recording of Christmas carols with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge). Jazz was also great fun (trumpet, saxophones) with L100.  They also managed very well with the complex Afro-bossa (Duke Ellington), my studio monitors (Genelec 8050) and my Dynaudio Confidence 20’s are not even close. 
With rock they were great with some recordings  (Deep Purple’s Smoke on the water was amazing for instance). I don’t think they were very engaging at lower volumes though, they need to be played loud to be really fun. The problem is that some records contain a lot of treble energy and that’s why I had problems with L100, playing loud the treble was too much for my ears occasionally. It’s not often I have experienced listening fatigue but I did with L100. This may be due to a combination of the speaker, my room (large window on the right side wall) and the volume. In another room they may perform differently. 
In addition, with Billy Joe Armstrong’s cover of Kids in America, they did not portray the rhythm as well as my smaller speakers. I did not think the speakers were great with Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars, my monitors do a better job with that album. 
AC/DC (Back in black) is one example of where L100 were very exciting when played loud but in the long run caused fatigue.  
But again, impressions are based on auditioning them in my room (which of course is great), another room may interact differently with the speakers. 
I did a quick comparison chart as I'm looking for a pair of speakers to go with my Pass XA25. Comes on top The C4s, followed closely by the JBL S4700 (used for ~$10K), the podium is completed by the JBLS3900 - 4th place is the 4349. The criteria I used were impedance and sensitivity since the XA25 generates only 25W, but also a range of reviews (the way I perceived them - So it has to be biased). I'm not mentioning the Volti Rival - I'm not sure how to consider this one pretty much since Stereophile lists them in their class A components, but they never reviewed the C4... Not fair IMO. Still looking, got interested by a pair of used Wilson Sabrina, still undecided - That's still an investment!
Xa25 with Cornwall 4.  Perfect.  Wilson is completely different sound if you are used to horns.  I feel laid back and distant.  IMO
Music Direct
60 day trial 
KLIPSCH AND JBL
LaScala with subs. A big step up and worth the money. There are good used ones out there also. 
Thanks for suggestions @dave_b and @russ69. I live in Europe so used Klipsch heritage speakers are rare, would have loved to try a La Scala though. 
I’ve now spent two evenings with the 4349 which I have on loan from my dealer. Brand new so they probably need a lot more time before they open up. Impressions so far: 4349 is a better speaker than L100, more balanced and a more refined treble. They seem a little shy in the bass initially, maybe because they are new. L100 had more mid bass immediately out of the box though, bass that was both heard and felt.
Voices are really good, better than they were when I tried L100. Overall a very good speaker. 
Still considering Cornwall IVs though. While I really like 4349 they are still quite bright and I’m worrying about fatigue. 
Not sure if Cornwall IVs are less bright and if I go for them I’ll need to buy unheard. Luckily I don’t need to decide yet, maybe someone has heard both JBLs and Cornwall IVs and can advice? 


The JBL’s will settle down on top and the bass response will definitely become more full and powerful as they break in.  Cabling will be a big factor in getting the best results.  What do you currently use?
I’m using Van den Hul speaker cables (D352). I don’t think they are bright but there may be better alternatives. 
I’ve heard both and my impression was Cornwall was hands down a better speaker. One caveat, you need a tube amp to make it sound its best. I heard them with a low powered SET and was blown away. They’re very smooth, dynamic, great at low volume, lively. I wouldn’t pair Corwall with a solid state, it may get a bit bright. Tube amp tamed them nicely and it was almost too warm sounding.. I sat down for about two hours and listened to vocals and large scale classical works. No fatigue whatsoever, and I am used to warm sounding Sonus Faber. I say Take the Cornwall even without an audition you’ll won’t regret it. Just make sure to get a decent Tube amp, and SET if possible.
Thanks for sharing your experience with these speakers, @ei001h. Do you know what amp that was used to power these speakers? 
I’ll definitely need a new amp if I go for the Cornwalls, the question is if it should be a new integrated, a new power amp or a new pre- and a power? 
I’m a bit puzzled by 4349, did you think they were appropriately powered when you auditioned them? They have a claimed sensitivity of 91dB but I need about the same level of volume on my preamp as I did with my 87dB Dynaudios (for the same perceived sound pressure). 
The 4349’s will need power for full performance.  My Krell K300i drove my 4329’s extremely well but they thrived on it.  Cornwall’s will allow you more latitude in choosing amp.  Depends on your type of listening...I enjoy live volume levels occasionally so power is a thing for me.  If low level is your thing then go Cornwall with tubes.
The Cornwall IV excels at low volume and high volume listening. That said, I tend to listen a little louder than most and I have not been able to find a level that the CW IV can't handle. 

Oz


@dave_b I enjoy live volume levels but for late night listening (out of concern for my family) I usually listen at lower volume levels. Ideally, the system should sound good at both low and high volume levels. 
So far, I find 4349 to perform better than L100 at lower volume levels and they are also better than Dynaudio Confidence 20.

 I guess Cornwall IV might be even better at low volume levels, most important is however sound quality when playing at higher volume levels, hopefully Cornwall IV can do a god job if powered sufficiently? 
@johnek, Your Levinson amp will do just fine. There is no such thing as too much power. The Cornwalls will easily have more impact than an L100. Like I said before, if you add subwoofers down the line you will be in heaven.
In reference to Dave b with music direct...

Returning speakers is no walk in the park.
Works well for accessories and most midfi components. Recommend audition. Ever place a pass amp on a rack?

Shipping will be 400. Restocking will be 1200. Back surgery will be 4000.
My gut was to choose the JBL 4329 over Klipsch Cornwall when I was in the market, especially since I was using a high power SS amp like the Krell.  They are rather efficient but also enjoy being pushed when needed.  Midrange was buttery smooth and big with great detail.  Highs were lively and airy without offense and bass was powerfully deep with proper placement.  I think Levinson/JBL combo is a winner.
Are the 4329’s not available to you?  Less expensive and they have a three way design.  
I’ve seen the 4429 (I assume you refer to these)  but  never heard them. I guess what attracted me to 4349 is (on paper at least)  better bass extension. They do work great with my gear and placement seems non-critical. There are however three issues with their performance so far, two are easy to live with but the third may be an issue. 

4349 do not have the same ‘live’ sound that the L100 had, but on the other hand they are much more balanced and do a better job with many recordings. 

4349 do not have the bass (so far at least) that can be felt

Like with  the L100, I do feel fatigue after a while. Not as bad as with the L100 and 4349 are much better at lower volume levels. Still, I do want to me able to listen at all volume levels without fatigue. 

 Not sure if Cornwall IVs are better, some say their treble is brighter than JBLs. Maybe I need to try a tube pre-amp or perhaps find a pre-amp with tone controls?

I heard Cornwall with a few tube amps, most memorable of them Luxman MQ-300 with only 8W per channel, but I doubt I even used 1 watt, as Cornwall’s sensitivity is 102db, which means at 1 watt you’re at 102db, which is quite loud. Cornwall excels at low volume and near field listening as well as super high volumes if desired. You can achieve rock concert levels ~108-111db with only 4-8watts. They’re very easy to drive and you can have fun with all types of low power tube amps, especially SETs.

If you go for Cornwalls I suggest a Luxman tube integrated, LX-380 and you’ll be in heaven. This amp has it all, 18W per channel tubes, beautiful dac, solid phono stage and looks superb and quite fitting for Cornwalls. The only downfall is that it is not made in America. You will never look back after you hear this combo.
If you cant listen to your system for extended periods of time without fatigue then you should look for a different speaker. Not a Klipsch or JBL fan, but my guess is that you could look to modifications on the tweeter with the Klipsch. Have also heard that you can do alot with modifications on the Klipsch crossover. To my ears the JBLs get nothing right, but my exposure has been limited to the older models.
Current klipsch speakers need make no apologies and need no tweeter mods. Listen for yourself and you'll see.

Oz


I own the JBL L100. Used to own Cornwall 2’s and Cornscalla B version and Klipsch Forte 3’s. I have not heard the Cornwall 4’s yet. I’m sure I would love them though. My only reservation is that they are very big speakers. The JBL’s (in my room) sing. I can play them crazy loud with no ear fatigue at all. Excellent soundstage and imaging too. They sound good with tubes and solid state. You might try playing with positioning if you listen to them again. They are one of the best speaker purchases I have ever made. 
The first time I listened to Cornwall's it was a pair of II's and I thought the highs were a little bit shrill and the overall sound seemed thin to me.

Last week, I listened to a pair of broken-in Cornwall IV's in a dealer show room that was 14W X 20L x 10H and treated with corner bass traps on the front wall.

The speakers were mated to an all McIntosh solid state front end including a receiver rated at 200 WPC into 4 ohms.

The speakers were two feet off the front wall with ten feet between their centers and ten feet to the listening position. 

My impression, after listening for about an hour and a half with 5 or 6 different CD's, was that the sound seemed veiled and not particularly resolving. I liked the palpability of the large woofer but kept thinking that I needed to sit further away from the speakers as I felt almost "overwhelmed" even at low volumes.

I am trying hard to like a highly efficient American made speaker and do not mean to disparage the Cornwalls.

Would a tube amp make that much of a difference or is it maybe I just do not care for horns?

Thanks for listening, 

Dsper



The “not resolving “ part is most likely due to the Mac equipment!  I owned their high end separates and although they had their positives, I could always hear a bit of a whitish veil over the music.
@dsper 

My first question would be how much toe in was used. Pointed right at you, the sound can be overwhelming. Positioned so that they cross a few feet behind your head seems to be the sweet spot. And you need to have a little distance between them and you for the drivers to blend.

As for the veiling, I can't answer to that. They seem to have very good resolution to me. There are other speakers that are more resolving and articulate, but those tend not to have the tone, texture and involvement that these do.

Oz


@mike_f Totally agree regarding soundstage and imaging, I actually preferred L100 over Dynaudio Confidence 20. They had both height and depth, as well as width. My ears are however sensitive to brightness, this was probably made worse by playing them quite loud. I did not really appreciate their sound at lower volume. 

The 4349 has better midrange, treble is not as fatiguing and they are engaging also at lower volumes. What they do not have is the kick of the L100 (the bass is not as fun) and I also think L100 was more enjoyable with jazz and classical music. No question though, from a Hi-Fi perspective, 4349 is a better speaker. But if I had not experienced fatigue with the L100 that would have been my choice as they are cheaper and fun. 
 @dsper I think I’ve seen a similar review on the Klipsch forum. Interestingly, my dealer had a visit by the Klipsch distributor last week. They demonstrated the Forte III and his impression (at least what he told me) was very much the same as yours. I know however that he prefers more analytical speakers so not sure what to make of it. 


Ok, first off, the 4349’s or the 4329’s I had are extremely lively and dynamic once run in properly and hooked up with appropriate cables.  The L100’s are not as dynamic overall...must be a placement issue or they were more run in before 4349’s came?  The bass should be palpable once broken in as well...very large spider to loosen up.  
The 4349 is in the same position as where I had L100. I have not seen any measurements but my guess is that the L100 has more mid bass output which made them exciting. 
In addition, I read a review of the 4349 where they concluded that there is a degree of compression in the bass when playing loud. This of course limits the physical impact of the bass. 
They are definitely lively, no question about that. Received them just a week ago (a brand new pair) so there will likely be improvements. 
I’ll be able to keep them until the beginning of next week, then I’ll need to decide on whether they stay or if I take a chance on the Cornwalls. 

Maybe the 4329’s were just more musical...hard to figure.  Anyway, good luck!
If you have the opportunity, visit the Klipsch Forum:  https://community.klipsch.com/index.php.  I have several Klipsch heritage speakers and have since transitioned from SS to tube amps.  They are very efficient speakers and for my taste the tube amps were a better match.   I will be pairing my Cornwall IIs and La Scala IIs to Decware amps after much research.  
I cant imagine using any horn speaker with a S.S. amp. Granted I think many horn owners are limiting themselves by using low power SET amps. 
Depends on the solid state. I’m using a Sudgen A21SE with Heresy IV and it’s an excellent match. I also have a couple of tube amps but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much with the Sugden. 
Now I’m looking at demoing either the Cornwall IV or JBL 4367 to pair with a Sugden IA4 I have on order. Any thoughts on that speaker matchup? Obviously a big price difference but the size difference will require a couple of additional purchases with the Klipsch to accommodate them in the space so it is a little less of a difference than it might seem. 
ozzy62
And you need to have a little distance between them and you for the drivers to blend.

Hey ozzy62, can you share what you mean by a little bit? Ten feet , 15 feet, or....?

For example, Thiel CS5i's were recommended to be at a minimum of eight feet from the listener's seat.

Thanks,

Dsper